~ Poetic License ~

    A biannual poetry contest by the editor of Prisoners Of The Night, 14 years in publication.

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THEME: The Seasons of Our Lives

    I’m looking for moments captured, moments of nature, moments of the heart, moments of experience, moments of your life expressed in poetry.

DEADLINE: April 20th, 2008

    The decision of the judges is final.

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What I’d like to see:

1: I’m especially interested in views of nature, the seasons where you live or have lived, childhood memories of various times of year.  Family, school, travel, work, pastimes, months, days, seasons, important changes in your life.  I’m not necessarily interested in holiday moments but if those are the moments you want to capture, please do.

2: While love can definitely be associated with times of the year and special moments in our lives, I’m not necessarily interested in love poems though, again, if those are the moments you want to capture, I certainly won’t prohibit love poems.

3: I’d love to see free verse; rhyme, though perfectly acceptable, is too often an easy way of expressing oneself and poetic rhyme is too often “forced”.  By “forced”, I mean a word is made to fit the need of the rhyme or a word that isn’t the best to express the need is used because it rhymes.  I’d like to see people pushing their own creative envelopes past this device.

4: I’d love to see my poets spreading the word about this (and other) Poetic License contest.  Poetry is not high on the food chain of most people’s priorities!  I think, as poets, we need to step forward and fan the flames of our cause!

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What I do not want to see:

1: Again, rhyme is not high on my list of desired forms of poetry but structured forms of poetry (sonnets, for example) are very welcome… and usually very difficult so I applaud anyone wanting to tackle the form..

2: I expect to see some poetry about experience during wartime; I’m assuming some of my writers have been in the service, but I do not want to see hatred about those experiences.  Anger, fear, horror… the feelings that go along with the unfathomable act of serving in the armed forces will be welcomed with open arms.

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What I need to see:

1: $1.00 per poem entered. PL accepts checks, money orders (both made payable to “Mkashef Enterprises”) or, if you’re sending more than 5 poems, PayPal (  In the unlikely case of the contest being canceled, all entry fees will be refunded.

2: A limit of 10 poems per person. 

3: A SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) from everyone who a) would like their entries returned should I not accept them (or some of them) with adequate postage and b) everyone who doesn’t have an e-mail address.

4: If possible, an e-mail address!

5: On each poem: Your name, address and e-mail (if available).  If I receive poetry that is unidentifiable, how can it be judged?  Be sure to label every single poem.

6: Please, if at all possible, type your poetry.  If it is not possible to type your entry(ies) please print as clearly as possible.

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How the contest is judged:

1: There is a panel of four judges, including myself.

2: The name of the poet is covered on every poem (copies are made with the name covered) and a code is given to each poet before judging begins.

3: Each judge marks each poem on a scale of 1-5, 5 being highest.

4: Elements such as word usage, poetic rhythm, overall impression and effectiveness of the representation of the theme are some, but not all, elements taken into consideration. Hint: Seriously, presentation really does make an impression. If your poem is sloppy or on dirty paper or handwritten or on a piece of torn paper, you are not going to receive the same consideration as someone who submits a clean, typed, crisply presented poem. Perhaps that’s not fair but it’s human nature and, trust me, the judges are very human.

5: When the contest is closed, each judge tallies the scores another judge has given the poetry.

6: In case of ties, I, as editor, have final say.

7: The decisions of the judges are final.

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What prizes are awarded and how:

1: There are three placements – first, second and third – along with five honorable mention positions awarded.

2: First place: $500.00; second place: $100.00; third place: $40.00. Each honorable mention receives a free copy of the anthology.

3: Winners are notified by me as soon as judging is complete; payment is made at time of notification.

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What you will be asked to do above and beyond submitting and paying an entry fee:

1: I ask you to purchase your own copy of the anthology. That may sound greedy of me but, really, it’s not. The $640.00 of prize money comes directly out of my personal, financially strapped pockets. Your support of Poetic License not only helps defray the expense of the prize moneys but also helps toward the printing and mailing of the books and the many, many unseen expenses involved in an undertaking like this.

2: That’s all! Unless you want to buy copies for your relatives and friends, too, which is, you know, fine by me!

On a personal note: I want to thank every one of you who have waited so long for this next contest. My life has not gone as I’d expected it to over the past several years and so projects have been laid aside – not ignored, delayed. I appreciate your interest and your faith in the project.

I hope to see huge amounts of wonderful poetry from all of you.

--Alayne Gelfand - Editor

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Mail submissions to:

Poetic License
PO Box 688
Yucca Valley CA 92286-0688


E-mail submissions to:



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